Unlocking Songwriting with Kate Valentine

Part Two: Open The Window And Welcome In The Breeze

A continuation of the blog series which follows Kate Valentine, Founder and Director of Singing Mamas, on a very personal journey to ‘Unlocking Songwriting’. Enabled by a grant from the Arts Council called ‘Developing Your Creative Practice’. Follow Kate’s journey here and through her series of VLOGs.

Kate Valentine, Unlocking Songwriting

So Kate, we find you more than half way through your journey to ‘Unlocking Songwriting’, are you still enjoying the ride? 

Very much so, it’s such a privilege to be doing this work.  I have been inspired to think that anything is possible and it now feels very comfortable to try something new.  Even when the official bit of the project comes to an end, I’m confident that I’ll keep on going.  My experiences and learning on this songwriting journey have been life changing in so much as its become a hobby, and a support to being a mum, parent and woman in the world. 

In blog one, “Telling Your Inner Critic To Get Lost!” you talked about your inner critic getting in the way of the creative process, has this changed in any way? 

I’m pleased to say that it’s such a different story how I hear and notice my inner critic now versus how it was in the beginning.  I’ve gotten to know the voice and although it’s sometimes there in the background, its power over me during my creative process has dramatically decreased. 

It’s taken practice though – For example, I did an exercise where I videoed myself conversing with my inner critic.  When my inner critic was speaking, I filmed the left side of my face and when I spoke back to it, I filmed the right side of my face.   After I watched it back, I felt a huge sense of compassion for myself in the face of the inner critic’s comments; it was like looking at a friend and saying “no, please don’t do treat yourself like that”.  I noticed that when my inner critic was speaking, they were harsh and defensive, and my face was tense but when I spoke back to it, my face and voice softened and I came up with numerous reasons why my inner critic was wrong.  Exercises like this have trained me out of sitting in that inner critic space, to literally talk back to it reasonably and calmly, and quieten it’s hold over me – It has been so freeing. 

A walk in nature to get the creative juices flowing

Have you developed any new skills on this journey?

Oh yes, many skills! Practically, I’m so much more at home with the tech side of things now. The big box of equipment that daunted me at the beginning is all set up, always switched on and ready to go, and must have about ninety-nine noodles and little tunes saved to the Looper memory bank, and three hundred and ninety-nine tiny voice notes on my phone! I can also find harmonies quicker than I used to.

My confidence in my voice as an instrument and my absolute faith in my listening ear has been a massive leap forward and helped me edge towards calling myself a musician. I have all the skills I need in my singing voice to write songs and my need to cling to or rely on music theory has all but disappeared.

The biggest skill or breakthrough though has come from my ability to carve out the space needed to allow the creative process to happen…and I’d like to caveat this with ‘most of the time’ because there are times of course when despite having the perfect conditions, the creativity just doesn’t flow or my inner critic might get in the way.

In the early days, I would experience quite random, organic song writing moments which I can only describe as opening the window, and in on the breeze came a song. If I was lucky, I would be in my studio to capture the moment on the loop station or as was quite often the case, dash from the kitchen where I’m cooking dinner, leaving the odd burned meal in my wake!

Now, I’ve worked out that if the conditions are right and for me that includes an empty or quiet house, I can create the space intentionally, I can invite the opening of the window (…most of the time) and up will bubble the things that want to be sung about in the world! However, I still enjoy the spontaneity of a song coming to me when I’m out for a walk, or driving, totally unplanned and full of mystery!

Has any particular skill eluded you so far?

Not if I’ve got anything to do with it! The quietening of my inner critic has really helped me to feel like a lot more is possible. For example, I’m very close to selecting which songs I would like to record as MP3’s and score onto paper, eventually becoming a songbook of my work, eek! I have never scored a piece of music before and although the task is daunting me slightly, I am determined to learn how to do it.

Songwriting is soooo uplifting!

You talk about discovering a creative process for songwriting in Vlog 6: An Emotional Journey. This came about when you wrote a song about your grandmother, Shirley, can you tell us more about this?

The first time few times I wrote a song as part of this journey there was no planning or forethought, I just opened the microphone and out it came, or so I thought. It was only when I retraced my steps that I realized I could see a bit of a process emerging and some ideal conditions for my songwriting.

My songwriting process can include all or some of the following steps:

  • Take myself somewhere calm and quiet, like a nature walk.
  • Get out of my head and into my heart space.
  • Allow myself to be inspired by what surrounds me: sights, sounds and smells.
  • Return home to my studio, make sure the tech is turned on and allow myself time to be still and meditative.
  • Open my notebook and begin to write down all the things that stood out to me on my walk, and the thoughts and feelings that were with me.
  • Sing into the microphone with a feeling, a phrase or make a sound.
  • Have fun playing in the improvising space, noodling around with harmony, I call this the ‘Inspiration Stage’.
  • Next day, or next few days, if I am moved to do so, the hard work begins and I’ll start to refine it, and rejig, imagine a whole group singing it perhaps, and I call it the ‘Perspiration Stage’.

So far, I’ve written about ninety-nine little noodles, some as a result of when I’ve followed a process and some when I’ve just been spontaneous. Out of the ninety-nine, I’ve taken ten onto the hard work stage, and I’ve taught four of these to a group.

I really love the ‘Inspiration Stage’ and is when the I open the window to let the breeze carry in the idea, sound or tune. It is a time when I let myself be free of judgement and pressure to be perfect. Nurturing this creative impulse has helped me grow.

Kate sharing songs with a Singing Mamas Group

Your songwriting journey has been quite a personal one and thank you for sharing how that has felt. Has this come with any challenges?

Yes, definitely. The themes which tend to bubble up during my songwriting process are mainly to do with my family history, childhood tragedy and parenting journey. I actually took a bit of time off from my live VLogs recently as I continued to work behind the scenes because I was experiencing some deeply personal, vulnerable and tender moments. The impulse in me to write about these themes is strong and I didn’t want to switch this off, instead I could feel better by processing these feelings through songwriting and channeling the emotional responses into the formation of the song.

This was true of my song ‘Mother’s Prayer’ which I wrote in response to the conflict in Ukraine. When I shared my song in my singing groups and online, people were genuinely moved and said it had helped them process their own feelings about how troubling it had been for them too. Sharing my emotional responses through my songs have value.

I’ve also been writing from a place I would describe as a ‘body response’. When I’m feeling the big feels and its raw and its heavy, I burn to sing from that place of body response, crying out into the microphone and just allowing the sounds to come out of me. They are words and sounds that come from feelings which perfectly transmit the message and sentiment, and which become the foundation of the song.

Which songs will make it into the songbook?

What next Kate?

I’m really open to speaking to people tempted to have a go at this themselves – I strongly believe that this is for everyone and I would love to take people on this journey in the future. At the beginning, I was so full of self-doubt and like this was an impossible task but it really isn’t. The journey is grounding and the feedback that I’ve received has been invaluable.

I’m going to knuckle down now for the final stretch of this journey and aim to produce upwards of 10 finished songs which I’ll record and commit to paper and then share with you all. I can’t wait to see my name in print and that’s when I’ll finally call myself a songwriter too.

How can people follow your progress?

Please keep in touch with me personally by emailing: info@singingmamaschoir.com, and watch my VLOG series where I talk in depth about what’s happening for me in the moment, and I share my arrangements and songs:

1. Unlocking Songwriting: First step on the journey...

2. Unlocking Songwriting: I opened the box!

3. Unlocking Songwriting: The eternal quest to find songs…

4. Unlocking Songwriting: Fresh out of the pan… 

5. Unlocking Songwriting: Rough cuts of songs…

6. Unlocking Songwriting: An emotional journey…

7. Unlocking Songwriting: Deep dive into emotional territory…

8. Unlocking Songwriting: 2% Inspiration vs 98% Perspiration

9. Unlocking Songwriting: Ukraine, A Mother’s Prayer…

Unlocking Songwriting with Kate Valentine

Part One: Telling Your Inner Critic to Get Lost!

A blog series which follows Kate Valentine, Founder and Director of Singing Mamas, on a very personal journey to ‘Unlocking Songwriting’. Enabled by a grant from the Arts Council called ‘Developing Your Creative Practice’.  Follow Kate’s journey here and through her series of VLOGs.

The journey begins...

What do we need to know about you, Kate?

I have always loved music and singing; they are the main feature of my world and they keep me feeling vital, positive, happy and well.  I get excited by new music of all genres, all of the time!  I believe that creativity exists in all of us, but that society and how we’re trained to view ourselves can limit how we express our creativity.

When I was younger and deciding what to do with my life and career, alongside a love of music was a strong calling to become a nurse.  I followed this path and for the last 22 years I’ve benefitted from intimate human connection, working alongside some wonderful people.

Part way through my nursing career and inspired by becoming a mother, I combined all of my passions to become the Founder and Director of Singing Mamas Choir CIC, and I’ve recently become the grateful recipient of a grant which will enable me to unlock parts of myself that both excite and terrify me!

All the 'Tech' gear and no idea!

Tell us more about the grant you have received, ‘Developing Your Creative Practice’?

It’’s a grant from the Arts Council that funds individuals to pursue their own self-development in their art, and places a high value on the creative process.  It allows people time and resources to go deep and learn new ways of working.  It gives people permission to be bold, take risks, be daring and breakout of their comfort zone!

After many years of singing and leading songs written by other people, I realised that it was time to do something proactive about a secret longing of mine… that as much as I loved these songs and admired these song writers greatly, I was also living with an overwhelming desire to be to lead choirs to sing songs that I’d written myself!

Song writers from the Natural Voice world have a knack for finding notes and sounds, and combining them with words to create beautiful patterns which bring a unique feeling and harmonic experience for groups of people.  This special gift is something that I feel a closeness to.  However, connecting with this process, allowing myself to believe that I possessed the skills to write these beautiful songs has been frequently blocked by my inner critic, and self-limiting beliefs.

I am determined to unlock this skillset within me, I know it’s there, I just need to convince myself!

What do you hope to achieve on your song writing journey?

I want to discover and explore all of the different routes into creating songs by answering many of these questions: How do I begin? How do I open up my creative channels? How do I combine giving the process some structure with time for play? Do I start with music theory? How do other people do this?

I want to gain in confidence and feel comfortable in my style of communicating, both personally and professionally.  When I speak publicly on the topic of song writing and my process, I want to do it with a sense of authority and leadership, hopefully inspiring other creatives along the way.

By publishing my journey and songwriting process; I want you to come along with me and keep me company, talk to me about how it’s going and hold me to account.

But mostly I want to write songs!

Kate in action as a Singing Mama

You’re a few months into your songwriting journey, any challenges so far?

The feeling of sheer terror mainly!  I thought that managing this feeling in the months when I was preparing my grant application was hard, but the biggest challenge has been making a start once I’d been successful in applying and receiving the grant.

Grappling with a very loud, hugely judgmental inner critic telling me “you can’t do this” and “who do you think you are?” has been tough.  I know deep down this critic is a defense mechanism, trying to protect my own emotions from the prospect failure or embarrassment.  It also feels like a very bold move to call myself song writer but I’ve just decided to claim my right to do this anyway – Basically, my inner critic has been holding me back for too long, and needs to do one!

I’ve had several light bulb moments that have supported my change in mindset – For instance realising that when I’m walking, driving or in motion, that judgmental part of my brain is otherwise occupied, which allows me to sing, improvise and be more fluid in my creative process.  Or when my colleague and song writer Helen Yeomans showed me a musical score from the early days of her song writing career with her name at the top… I imagined my name at the top of my first musical score and I made space for a new voice that said “you can do this” and “you are a songwriter”.

Any surprises?

Plenty!

At first, I threw myself into the music theory side of song writing because that’s how you’re supposed to do it, right?  I was once quite proficient at the flute and I can read music but when I sat down at a piano and tried to make my fingers work… they just didn’t.  Nothing wanted to come out of me, and I found this really disheartening!

The big surprise came when I started trusting in my voice instead.

It makes perfect sense to me now, because it is my most accomplished and practised tool.  My ears have heard it all and I’ve sung a lot of songs!  I know from experience that when I let my voice flow freely there is no stopping my creative output.  My voice is my instrument for song writing now.

Another surprise was suddenly writing a song after a rather painful ‘Mothering moment’ to do with my son.  When I later shared that song with him it felt really important and cathartic.

Kate noodling on her guitar

What should we expect to see or hear from you next?

I’m very happy with the sounds that I’ve created so far, and with not feeling so embarrassed about what’s coming out of my mouth, but my ultimate goal is being able write songs that speak to a more universal, collective experience.

I want to show people that whatever their background they can access this creative process too – I want to bust myths all over the place!

I want to write songs about things that don’t get sung about: the slightly more challenging aspects of life, songs with some value that provide light and good in challenging times.  But in doing so I’ aware that things might get a bit messy for me, because I’m reaching into deeply personal feelings related to trauma and tragedy, as well as joy.

This process will be transformative and it’s already the engine that’s pulling the rest of my life forward; I feel energised by having access to this sort of creative expression, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my journey with you all!

How can people follow your progress?

Watch my VLOG series where I talk in depth about what’s happening for me in the moment, and I share my arrangements and songs:  

1. Unlocking Songwriting: First step on the journey...

2. Unlocking Songwriting: I opened the box!

3. Unlocking Songwriting: The eternal quest to find songs…

4. Unlocking Songwriting: Fresh out of the pan… 

5. Unlocking Songwriting: Rough cuts of songs…

6. Unlocking Songwriting: An emotional journey…

Singing is a family affair at Kate's house

I’d love to hear from you so please do send me an email to ask a question or share some insight of your own: info@singingmamaschoir.com

Would you like to be part of a Mothering Sunday project in 2021?

Join me in sending a message of love and hope to our Mothers....

Singing Mamas Choir Mothering Day Concert 2019

Greetings,

Kate Valentine here with a special invite for you to get stuck into a gorgeous creative project with Singing Mamas Choir!

We are creating a musical three minute film to celebrate and share in Mothers’ Day 2021 – Everyone has a ‘Mother’ and so everyone is welcome to participate.

At the centre of the film will be the song ‘One Voice’ by The Wailin’ Jennys.  We have chosen this song because we want to touch people’s hearts and bring a moment of tender connection through singing on Mothering Sunday where people may be apart due to the pandemic.

Thanks so much to The Wailin’ Jennys for gifting us this song.

What is the ask?

We need snapshot, home-video style clips, and recordings of you singing the song.  We would love to hear you singing or you can choose not to have your voice included. We need your submissions by Monday 15th February 2021.

Drop us an email to get the details of how you can participate: info@singingmamaschoir.com

With kind wishes (and oodles of excitement for this project!!),

Kate Valentine x

 

The Song Book has landed!

We are riding a wave of pure joy today – We hold in our hands our first song book! A Song Book for Everyone: Songline Edition contains twenty-one beautiful and original songs, gifted to us by some very special women to share with you enable you to feel the same joy and release as you sing.

Proceeds from the song book will go towards creating programmes which centre on singing for better health and well-being and making singing accessible to all.

The Song Book has landed!

The idea for the song book came from our Songline sessions which took place during lock down 2020 (facilitated by Singing Mamas Choir CIC and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund). The sessions were an uplifting and vital experience for many of us – sharing a song three times a week brought us together as a community and enabled us to feel support and comfort as we sang.

The song book celebrates many of the song sharers who took part – including Helen Yeomans, Kirsty Orr, Sophia Efthimiou, Fran Andre, Kirsty Martin, Asha McCarthy and many more!

As part of honouring the gift of song that the contributors have made, we have made sure to include in their own words, where the idea to write the song has come from.

Asha McCarthy, a Singing Mamas Choir Leader and Classically trained musician, did an amazing job of curating the content, transcribing the music and recording parts – we are ever so grateful for her creativity and hard work.

The song book truly is for ‘Everyone’.  The songs speak of the human experience and transcend the lock down – they are positive, powerful, and thoughtful.

We include MP3 parts and a Listening Album to buy alongside the song book, as well as helpful performance notes.

You can enjoy these songs at home, in your choir setting, amongst friends, in schools or as part of voluntary roles in the community.

Here is the list of songs that we hope you will fall in love with:

DAWN
From the Birds – By Victoria Casey
The Sun Is Rising – By Phillipa Snell
East Chorus – By Kirsty Martin
The Sun Will Rise – By Kate Shrubsall

AM
Turtle Dove – By Emma Partridge
Zooming High – By Louise Blackburn
You Gotta Start Somewhere – By Penny Stone
You Are Enough – By Kirsty Orr
This Is Home – By Sophia Efthimiou

MIDDAY
Ceremony Boogie – By Helen Yeomans

AFTERNOON
Rock And A Hard Place –By Lynfa Sioufi
Tick Tock – By Victoria Casey
Hold On – By Emma Partridge
Overlapping Waves – By Maya Waldman
Rock Me Slow – By Zoie Kennedy
It’s OK To Stop – by Rachel Hilton

DUSK
Circle Of Firelight – By Emma Mutter
Seed Song (Listen) – By Maeve Leahy

NIGHT
I Will Sing – By Jo Taylor
Burn Brightly – By Fran Andre
So Much – By Asha McCarthy

If you have any questions, or would like to feature in our next edition, please email: info@singingmamaschoir.com

Songline is back! Take that Covid-19!

Songline, by Singing Mamas Choir CIC, returns for another run of online community singing sessions from Monday 5th October 2020.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

When the UK went in to lock down in March 2020, Singing Mamas Choir CIC stepped up with the help of the National Lottery Community Fund to create ‘Songline’, an online singing lifeline which ran for thirteen weeks and brought thousands of people together in community and song – people who would have otherwise felt isolated by the impact of the virus.

Thanks to the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund, Songline can return with another programme of incredible Song Sharers to connect people through singing, and improve their general well-being in these uncertain times.

An exciting update this time around, participants are welcome to pitch up and share songs with each other on a Wednesday night, a bit like an open mic night for choirs!

Kate Valentine said “We proved over lockdown that Songline has the power to connect, uplift and strengthen – we cannot wait to sing with you all again – anybody is welcome!”

Maxine Miller said “Songline makes me sing without thinking and it really helped with my depression this summer. Songline is a joyful connection for people, through people and a reason to start the day without thinking too much about tomorrow. I’m so glad it is back”.

###Ends

Notes to Editor:

• Main contact: Lindsey Joy – Communications Lead at Singing Mamas Choir CIC – lindsey@bodhimama.co.uk and 07817 305458

• Alternative contact: Kate Valentine – Founder & Director of Singing Mamas Choir CIC – mskatevalentine@gmail.com and 07765 238444

• Singing Mamas Choir are a wide network of community based, face to face choirs bringing people together to connect and experience the freedom, energy and pure magic of harmony singing in our natural voice. Singing Mamas was established over 10 years ago by Kate Valentine as a way to get more people singing.

• Kate Valentine – Kate is the Founder and Director of Singing Mamas Choir CIC – she answered the call during lock down to return to the NHS front line as an A&E Nurse based in East Sussex – she runs Singing Mamas CIC at the same time and bringing people together in community and song is her passion!

• Maxine Miller – is a Songline participant from day one, she lives in London, UK.

• Songline will be live every Monday and Friday at 10.30am – 11.00am, led by a well-known Natural Voice Song Sharer. Wednesdays at 8.00pm – 8.30pm are open to all to pitch up and share a song with the Songline community. Songline is free, and welcomes both men and women, and children. People can join in on Zoom: 999 101 2345 (pw:12345) or Facebook Watch Party.

• Programme details – Songline returns from Monday 5th October until the end of January 2021 (except for the week commencing 09/11/20, and over the Christmas period from 21/12/20 until 08/01/21).

• Target audience – people in extended isolation due to high COVID-19 risk as a result of age or underlying health conditions/people at home with children, lacking their usual support networks/ people with mental health challenges exacerbated by lockdown/anyone feeling isolated and in need of a boost due to the COVID-19 situation

• Find out more about Singing Mamas Choir: https://www.facebook.com/singingmamas/ and www.singingmamaschoir.com

• Evidence to support ‘Singing improves mental health and well being’:
– BBC Future (2020), https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200518-why-singing-can-make-you-feel-better-in-lockdown
– Oxford University (2015), https://theconversation.com/choir-singing-improves-health-happiness-and-is-the-perfect-icebreaker-47619
– The Guardian (2019), https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/dec/06/singing-babies-postnatal-depression

Songline Is Back!

Welcome back Songliners, we've missed you!

 

We have some fantastic news – Songline, from Singing Mamas Choir CIC, is returning on Monday 5th October at the usual time of 10.30am – 11.00am, and then every Monday and Friday thereafter until the end of January 2021 (except for the week commencing 09/11/20, and over the Christmas period from 21/12/20 until 08/01/21)

There are familiar faces aplenty – Rachel Hilton is back as host, and lots of your favourite Song Sharers will be returning too!

But there is also a twist this time around! Every Wednesday at 8pm – 8.30pm, Kate Valentine, our Founder and Director, invites you to join her for ‘Community Songline’. Community Songline is where YOU get to pitch up and share a song… and/or show up to sing and support someone else – exciting, right?

We proved over lockdown that Songline has the power to connect, uplift and strengthen – we cannot wait to sing with you all again.

Please help us get the word out – share our social media, send a few texts, anything to help bring Songline to the people who need it:

• people in extended isolation due to high COVID-19 risk as a result of age or underlying health conditions
• people at home with children, lacking their usual support networks
• people with mental health challenges exacerbated by lockdown
• anyone feeling isolated and in need of a boost due to the COVID-19 situation

Finally, we would like to extend special thanks to the Government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund, administered by The National Lottery, without whose generosity we would have struggled to bring Songline back.

Further details:
• Mondays and Fridays, 10.30am – 11.00am, Songline hosted by Rachel Hilton. Live on Zoom and Facebook.
• Wednesdays, 8.00pm – 8.30pm, Community Songline hosted by Kate Valentine. Live on Zoom only.
• Zoom – 999 101 2345 (Password: 12345)

What is the Singing Mamas Choir Training?

A brief introduction to the Singing Mamas Choir Training.

A little story

When our founder, Kate Valentine, was a little girl she went along to a school choir rehearsal.  She was singing away and loving every minute until the teacher tapped her on the shoulder and told her to go back to the classroom.  Kate was really confused by this, as a child she didn’t understand the concept that she couldn’t sing?  This is a memorable moment for Kate and maybe you have one like this too, where your voice was shut off and you lost your confidence to sing?  

Kate went into nursing when she left school, followed by child-minding when she started her family.  She recalls “I’d pick the children up from school and see what I found out to be a ‘natural voice’ choir singing together in the hall”.  “I worked up the courage to ask if we could come and join in but they said no!”.  “I wasn’t one for taking no for an answer and the children were really keen so I asked again and this time they said yes! ”  “As time went on, the children became a welcome and settled part of the group and the experience all the more richer for everybody”.

Kate then moved to Forest Row in East Sussex and started looking after a little girl called Thea, her Mum is called Catherine.  Catherine became really interested in the idea of going along to a choir like the one Kate had described and after much searching Catherine said she’d come across something like it and invited Kate to go with her.

Kate remembers walking into the room with all the other mums seated on the floor with their babies and children and waiting a long time for the session to start.  Kate then started to feel like people were looking at her, including her friend Catherine who finally said, “Kate, you know some songs don’t you?”.  It suddenly dawned on Kate that she had been set up by here friend to lead this group of women and their children in song!  Kate claims to have ‘whispered’ her way through a few songs and shaking like a leaf but by the end of the session felt so good that she invited everyone to her house the following week!  The choir continued in Kate’s front room until they became so big that they needed to book a hall – that was 10 years ago and it’s kept on growing ever since!

Believe in yourself

Kate tells this story because it demonstrates how anyone can do this work, song sharing, with just the tiniest desire.  People come along to the training from all different backgrounds – from no experience to professional musicians and everyone in between.  The training is structured in such a way that it doesn’t leave anyone out and everyone brings something of value to make the experience special.

Singing and sharing songs is a desire that lives in all of us; we believe that singing is a birth right, and as a network we are always there to support each other to remember that – despite issues we may have to do with confidence and self-esteem.

How can I learn to share songs?

We have put together a training weekend which is an immersive experience of sharing songs amongst a lovely group of people; enjoying delicious home cooked food; time to relax and unwind; learning new skills and surprising yourself by discovering how naturally gifted you really are when it comes to sharing songs!

As well as share songs, we talk about valuing the origin of the song and the composer; the importance of culture; copyright and how to turn song sharing into a regular income by setting up a choir of your own.

But if this isn’t about earning an income for you and you are hoping to do it in a voluntary capacity or just out of interest – you are still very welcome to come along and will get lots from the experience.

 

The method

Our purpose is to ‘bring people home in community and song’ – that means keeping it simple and accessible to everyone. When you come along to the training, we take you as you are and are not concerned about level of experience and you do not need to read music. The songs we learn by ear – we are not teaching you to sing, we are teaching you how to receive a song and share it with others, a very different skill.

We practice a variety of warm ups; we sing songs in unison and in harmony parts, and everyone is encouraged to share a song by the end of the weekend (don’t worry, you have plenty of time to prepare before you come along). We learn to listen to our own voice and listen to others at the same time so we feel fully immersed in the song. You will go home with your pockets full of songs to get you started, and when you connect into the network of other trained individuals, you’ll learn and share so many more.

What does a Singing Mamas Choir look?

It looks like whatever you’d like it to be – our leader network run choirs for a variety of audiences: for women and children, including women without their own children; inter generational choirs; choirs held in the evening; for home school networks and mixed gender choirs. As long as your choir’s purpose and mission aligns with ours, your choir is your own.

We also welcome partner organisations and experienced choir leaders to come and train with us. For example, Emma Mutter, founder of the established Mums in Tune choir came along to our training out of an interest in natural voice singing and to be able to benefit from being part of a large network of other song sharers.

It’s not about competition for us, we value collaboration overall and we will find a way to welcome you to the network.  We believe what we have to offer you is very special and want to reach as many people as possible with the gift of song and singing in harmony.

I’m keen to come along, what do I do next?
1. Check out our latest training dates and take advantage of our early bird discount
2. Sign up for a free online ‘Intro to the training’ on Zoom – find it on Facebook
3. Send us an email

Thank you and we look forward to welcoming you to the Singing Mamas Choir family.

FINISH LINE!

Would you like to ‘Meet the Composer’ of your favourite songs?

Meet the Composer series - in conversation with Kate Valentine, Founder of Singing Mamas Choir.

What is ‘Meet the Composer’?

‘Meet the Composer’ is a special series of video-recorded interviews with composers and song sharers from the Natural Voice world, brought to you by the Singing Mamas Choir Network. It is my pleasure and privilege to get to meet them, albeit virtually, to ask about their journey to becoming a song writer and musician; what inspires them; the process of song writing and to share some insights and advice for how people interested in composing music could get started.

I bet you’re in your element right now?
Yeah! I love what I’m doing – shining a light on very special individuals who produce the beautiful songs that we all enjoy so much and the joy they bring when we share them with each other in our choirs and in our homes.

Where did the idea for Meet the Composer come from?
I have been brewing this idea for a long while; I’ve always been a fan of life-stories and biographies, especially from the change-makers of the world. Whenever I learn or teach a new song, I’m proud to share what I know about the song origin and the person who gifted this song to us.

Now I find myself leading leaders, in the organically grown Singing Mamas Choir network, I feel even more of a responsibility to model and create a strong culture of valuing and upholding the work of the songwriters. It’s also such an amazing feeling to see so many of the leaders blossoming into composers through being part of my network!

Why is valuing and upholding the work of songwriters so important to you?
As the Singing Mamas Choir community grows, songs are reaching more hearts and homes – I want to promote the culture of getting to know the composers and pay credit where it is due.

Copyright is an important subject within the Singing Mamas Network – the desire to share songs is strong and we are forever exchanging our knowledge about which songs are open source and which have copyright, which song books to recommend and how to buy the songs we want to teach. With digital and social media sharing, we can meet even more songs than ever before, but coupled with this is a risk that copyrights are breached and that we have not valued that individual’s work. This is a topic I will be talking a lot more about in the interviews.

What’s it like being in front of the camera and asking sometimes quite personal questions?
I can’t pretend I’ve got much experience of being an interviewer, but I feel at ease on camera and hopefully make others feel the same. My style is just to have a friendly conversation and create a warm and authentic flow. I’m also really interested to know the answers to my questions, I’m a big fan of many of these composers and so the questions just come naturally.

Where can we watch ‘Meet the Composer’ series?
You can find all of the interviews to date on our YouTube channel and some are pre recorded and some are broadcast live which adds another layer of excitement – we advertise upcoming interviews on our social media.  We’ll also be releasing them more widely soon as special first series.

What if you’re composer and song sharer reading this blog and are interested in featuring in the series?

Fantastic! Email me at info@singingmamaschoir.com

FINISH LINE!

A spotlight on Singing Mamas Choir: East Hoathly, East Sussex

In conversation with Rebecca Blech, Singing Mamas Choir Leader

“We are a warm and welcoming group of women; we connect with heart in an intimate space of song sharing and deep connection”.

Rebecca’s choir is a mixture of mums with young babies and toddlers; mums with children at school and college, and home-schoolers.  

Rebecca has so many happy memories of her choir – she recalls when tiny tots would utter her name for the first time and standing alongside her to conduct the women. She loves to hear about when the songs travel back to the homes of the women and their children; children singing to their dollies and their friends.

Rebecca remembers the heartfelt conversations about what really matters; the wisdom shared between the group and the howls of laughter as well as the tears when they need to come. Rebecca also gets super praise for her home bakes, the group really appreciate the extra love and nourishment they provide.

Rebecca is a big fan of our regular Songline sessions and believes they are a “great opportunity to introduce singing harmonies to those who might otherwise never sing for fear of what they sounded like; to bring the gift of song and community to people who might otherwise be isolated and lonely at home; to boost immunity through singing at this time; and to give a taste of what we share in Singing Mamas Choirs are all about”.

FINISH LINE!

A spotlight on Singing Mamas Choir Liverpool and Holistic Harmonies

In conversation with Rachel Hilton, Singing Mamas Choir Leader and host of Songline.

What would you like people to know about your choir?
My choir is full of really lovely; friendly and open women. After nearly 2 years together we are a community and we’d love you to join us? Come and feel the joy that singing in harmony can bring? You will love singing as a circle of women; it’s very different to standing or being seated in rows facing the front. The connection is so wonderful and we sing for each other and ourselves.

Tell us about a special memory?
I managed to bring all three of my Singing Mamas Choirs together for the first time, for National Make Music Day. We all sang outside Liverpool Central Library and my heart was exploding with love and pride at seeing singing so beautifully and then chatting with each other. I can honestly say that singing in a group is the most special feeling ever!

Why did you become a Singing Mamas Choir Leader?
As a Singing Mamas Choir Leader I really feel like I’ve found my vocation. I first saw an advert about the training on Facebook and thought… no, that’s not for me, I don’t know enough…. I’m a follower not a leader! Then I read on and it said I didn’t need to be a professional musician or have any experience; I wouldn’t be a teacher, I would be a song sharer. At point I just felt called to say YES!

I have a lot of experience working with women in groups teaching baby massage, and I originally went to theatre school many years ago. I began to see how being a choir leader could be the answer I had been looking for and a way to blend all of my skills and experience.

What’s it like being the host of Songline?
I think it’s so wonderful to see people from across the generations and across the world all joining in; singing the same song at the same time. Even though we can’t hear each other I feel really connected to these people. I’m even starting to feel familiar with the regulars!

Find out more about Rachel’s choir and Holistic Harmonies.

FINISH LINE!